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Review: Jesus Christ Superstar at The Palace Theatre is ‘an absolute smash hit’

Andrew Lloyd Webber's revamped Jesus Christ Superstar takes the stage by storm, delivering a hauntingly beautiful portrayal of the iconic story with a diverse cast and impeccable attention to detail.

I never thought I’d give Jesus a standing ovation, but after watching this show it’s hard not to!

Whenever you go to see any Andrew Lloyd Webber musical you know you’ll get an incredible show, and Jesus Christ Superstar is an absolute smash hit.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar

The buzz around the show can be felt in the audience as you take your seats, but once the curtain drops and the stage setup is revealed the audience is subdued into stunned silence.

That is until Jesus’s revellers run through the audience carrying stage equipment boxes and microphone stands.

The show follows Jesus, his fans, followers and enemies in his final days, from being betrayed to his gruesome crucifixion.

Jesus Christ Superstar Stage Design

The staging for this revamped show isn’t quite what you would expect, it’s a lot more Superstar than Jesus Christ.

There are plenty of crosses hidden and in plain sight, the back of the entire stage is a dark veil with a floor-to-ceiling cut-out cross that leads directly to a giant angled metal crucifix on the floor creating a catwalk.

Equipment boxes form stairs on either side and spotlights softly point out all of the cross-shaped joints on the rusty iron girders where the band are playing above.

It’s the subtle hints in the show that remind you of Jesus’s superstar status, the microphone stands, thick aux chords and wires and having an electric guitar player on stage.

Shem Omari James as Judas is an incredible talent

There is such a diverse cast for this show, in the ensemble and main leads, it’s unlike many other stage productions running currently.

Shem Omari James as Judas is an incredible talent, his voice portrays the inner struggles Judas faces perfectly, and you can almost hear the pain and torment.

It contrasts well with both Mary and Jesus, played by Hannah Richardson and Ian McIntosh, with Hannah’s reassuring and optimistic rendition of ‘Everything’s Alright’ and Ian’s incredibly captivating voice and stage presence.

The ensemble supports the leads throughout, from following Jesus around the stage to forming a haunting choir in the final scenes.

One standout member was giving it their all, Megan Bryony G played key roles in allowing the story to flow and introducing new characters without overshadowing fellow cast members.

Julian Clary as Herod

One person who should get a lot more stage time than they did was Julian Clary as Herod, his portrayal provided laughter and light in an otherwise quite dark story.

His costume of a giant gold cape and crown contrasted with the light greys and muted tones the rest of the cast wore throughout, and the reflection from the stage lights lit up the entire theatre.

The clever use of props throughout the show was one of the highlights for me.

From the Roman guards having spears that turned into microphone stands, to glowing crosses and glitter. For a show about Jesus, the costuming was very camp!

When Judas betrays Jesus, he reaches his hands into a chest of money, covering them in silver paint which stains his skin for the rest of the show, showing he is now tainted.

During one of the harrowing scenes of Jesus being whipped, tortured and writhing in pain, the cast throws glitter onto him which explodes, dispersing and dripping to the ground like blood.

In the final, harrowing scenes Jesus is pulled and held onto the cross with red microphone wires, and a shiny crown of thorns is placed on his head as the cross glows gold and smoke billows from below.

“Gruesome, but hauntingly captivating”

While gruesome, the scene of Jesus’s crucifixion is hauntingly captivating, with the choir dressed all in white looking away and the finer details like the light subtly changing as he says his last words.

You know how the show is going to end, even if you’ve never picked up a Bible, but the story is told in a poetic and detailed way, and even the graphic and gory parts are beautiful.

Overall, Jesus Christ Superstar is a hauntingly beautiful show with an incredible cast, timeless soundtrack and impeccable attention to detail.

Jesus Christ Superstar is on at the Palace Theatre Manchester until the 23rd of September.

You can get your tickets by clicking here

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